Have you ever heard of "heshiko"? Also called Japanese anchovies, heshiko refers to fishes, such as mackerel and sardine, pickled in salt and further pickled in rice-bran paste for a long period of time. As with other preserved seafood, the salt content is high, but the rich flavor that lies behind the salty taste is very delicious and will make your mouth water.
There are several theories about the origin of the name, including the fact that fishermen used to call it "heshikomu (squeezing)" when they marinated fish in barrels, which was then shortened to "heshiko." Compared to raw fish, heshiko has more flavor. Its unique flavor and salty-sweet taste goes well with rice and snacks. They are soaked in rice bran from autumn to winter, and are ready to eat after six months to a year.
Heshiko is mainly produced along the coast of the Sea of Japan from Ishikawa to Tottori prefectures. Although Kyoto is often given the impression that it is difficult to procure seafood, heshiko has been made and eaten as a preserved food for a long time in the Tango region, mainly in Ine Town, an area which is blessed with good fishing grounds due to the influence of the Tsushima Current and the rivers flowing through the mountains of the Tango Peninsula and the Tamba Mountains. The ones made in Ine Town use mackerel from Japan, Canada and Norway, which are especially rich in fat.
When eating heshiko, the bran is removed, cut into appropriate pieces, and grilled quickly. If you are worried about the bran, you can wash it off with water before baking. Grilled heshiko is usually eaten with ochazuke or on rice. It is also delicious when used in pasta. Be careful not to overcook it, as the flesh will become tough. Further, although heshiko is a food that can be stored for a long time, it should be kept in the refrigerator and consumed as soon as possible.
If you are interested in preparing heshiko, we recommend you use Kokiridashi's Kokiridashi Set, a portable cooking stove suitable for grilling heshiko. You may also use the product to heat various ingredients which you may prepare as nibbles for drinks. Please have a look at our website for more detail.
Kokiridashi's Kokiridashi Set